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Lin + Lam
Unidentified Vietnam No. 18
Film Screening

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2007
10 a.m. – 12 p.m., San Francisco Art Institute, Lecture hall and classrooms
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2007
30 min., 16mm film

In 1975, after the fall of Saigon, the Library of Congress acquired a collection of
1950-70’s films from the South Vietnam Embassy. Unidentified Vietnam No. 18 is a
successor to the seventeen films in the collection labeled only as “Unidentified
Vietnam, #1-17”. Lin + Lam's personal, experimental film examines the contested
relationship between Vietnam and the US, between history and propaganda, between
democracy and nation building.

Situated within the present, an archivist, film scholar, and South Vietnamese-in-exile
speculate upon the intention of the war-era films. The filmmakers mine the material
artifacts of the archive, fingering deteriorating film labels and paging through
catalogue lists, and inhabit the past by re-enacting propagandistic gestures. Spectral
images salvaged from a now non-existent republic haunt mausoleum-like hallways,
reminding us of what remains unidentifiable in the process of recovery. Through these
actions of retrieval and remembrance, the film ponders how US intervention has failed,
and considers the dangers of its repetition.